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ULLMAYER + SYLVESTER ARCHITECTS

SMALL PROJECTS 2005

Photography by Killian O'Sullivan/Lightroom

This summerhouse is at the end of a Victorian garden in north London. Our client, a family of four, wanted a low-cost, versatile, seasonal building that would allow Dad to paint away from the children and the boys an occasional sleepover in summer. Mum is a talented gardener, so a tool shed needed to be incorporated.

The structure's dimensions pay tribute to the family's obsession with table tennis.

We started with the shape of a boxy container, but soon began to mould it to make it fit its environment. We kinked it to form an intimate enclosure at the rear. We squeezed it where plants needed priority and fanned it out where the inside wanted to be generous. We formed openings to correspond with the rhythm of the tree trunks and folded the roof like a butterfly.

We found that a softwood and birch ply structure achieved all this with ease. A kinked, thin mirror reflects the diverse floral colour range and defies the solidity and proximity of a wall. Semi-transparent striped polycarbonate interferes with the shadows of moving leaves.

It is this camouflage and the capture-of-nature that make the building a real hideaway.

The structural engineer was BTA Structural Design.

Cost: £35,000

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